Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mail Chimp

In planning our Social Media Boot Camp for Museums, we here at Dii have had to get familiar with technologies that we don't necessarily use all the time. One site that has been instrumental in planning and organizing this event has been Mail Chimp.

Mail Chimp is a site that allows users to send out emails to a mailing list; it has functions to manage the list, create emails in specific templates, and track email opens, clicks, and bounce rates. If it sounds easy, that's because it is - well, mostly. I've been using Mail Chimp for several weeks as we organize this event, and I wanted to share what I've learned:

The Pros: 
-Designing an email, importing a mailing list, and keeping track of a campaign are intuitive and easy to figure out.
-You can send out test emails to a set of addresses to see what your message will look like when it goes to your audience - and Mail Chimp encourages you to test and re-test your emails.
-The site lets you segment your list of email addresses, so you can send a follow-up email to users who never opened your first message.
-Tracking your email's click rates, opens, and bounces is easy to do with their campaign reporting function.

The Cons:
-Mail Chimp will not send messages to role-based email addresses (such as It makes sense, because those addresses are prone to getting lots of spam, but if you're managing a professional list and legitimately have contacts at those addresses, you'll need to send those emails out individually.
-The tracking metrics are not completely accurate for smaller lists - sometimes users that were reported as not opening an email actually do receive and open it, and vice versa. In larger lists, the error percentage evens out, but in smaller lists this can cause confusion.

-Mail Chimp does not have total control over who receives an email. Even when campaigns are sent out correctly from Mail Chimp, the recipient's servers can delay an email by catching it in spam filters, or block it entirely. Mail Chimp does everything in its power to ensure that emails are received, but it can't guarantee that they will be received on time or at all.

-The creators of the site definitely have a nerdy sense of humor; the chimp in the top right hand corner frequently appears with fun movie quotes and links to YouTube clips as you navigate around the site. An example:

Overall, Mail Chimp is a great site for managing email campaigns with a few flaws. I would definitely recommend it, and plan on using it again!

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